In 2007, Pac Man creator Toru Iwatani gave me all the reason I needed to buy an XBox 360 when Namco released his farewell game, Pac Man Championship Edition.
Easily the best Pac Man game ever made, it was a fantastic modernization of the classic game which updated the design to maximize Flow, the zen-like state of consciousness sometimes called being “in the Zone”. Featuring a split maze, where completing one side spawns a prize on the opposite side, which, when eaten, refreshes the completed side, the game is perfectly set up for non-stop maze running and high score runs, where your goal is to maximize points in a timed run through a combination of eating dots, prizes, and ghosts.
I learned yesterday that a NES demake of Pac-Man CE has been released on the latest Namco Museum anthology, available on Nintendo Switch.
The demake has actually been around for several years, and is available for download if you can find it. You can play it in a NES emulator, or on real hardware, if you have an Everdrive. It’s implemented on MMC3 and weighs in at 257kb.
The original Pac Man CE was designed for 16:9 TV screens, while the NES is obviously engineered to display its graphics on an NTSC 4:3 display at 240i resolution. So to work around the limitations, the demake uses an ingenious programming technique to scroll the maze, using the NES’s video buffer to create an infinite horizontal wrap when you use the warp tunnels.
This is a must-play, must-own if you’re a fan of Pac Man or the NES. It’s also worth owning on the Switch. Apart from online leaderboards, it is fully featured, quite faithful to the XBox 360 original, and extremely well done.